The Indian Olympic Associations repeated pleas to have Dow hemicals removed as a sponsor of the London Olympics may have fallen on deaf ears but now the Indian government has intervened with a new request. In a letter to International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge,the sports ministry has asked the body to go beyond lesser considerations and let go of the Games association with Dow,the organisation that owns Union Carbide,the company responsible for the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy.
We strongly believe that there is no better medium than sports to inculcate and foster the feeling of friendship and solidarity among the people of the world. This being so we are dismayed that the IOC has not respected the sentiments of a large group of stakeholders including Olympians and withdrawn its association with Dow Chemicals, a part of the letter signed by Rahul Bhatnagar,who is a joint secretary in the ministry,stated.
The Government of India would therefore strongly urge the IOC to go beyond lesser considerations and in the larger interest of the ideals of human rights,compassion and solidarity,immediately take steps to cancel the sponsorship of Dow Chemicals … for upholding the noble ideals of the Olympic Movement, the ministrys letter said.
For Dow Chemicals to be engaged as an official sponsor for an event like the London Olympics by IOC/LOCOG is extremely distressing,considering the fact that this company is linked with an event in which thousands of innocent lives were lost and an even larger number of people were incapacitated for life and for whom,even now everyday is a struggle for survival, it added.
The IOC had clarified its stance saying Dow Chemicals had no ownership stakes in Union Carbide when the accident occurred and till as recent as 2000. The IOC also said that its relationship with Dow Chemicals was well over 30 years and we were aware of the Bhopal tragedy when discussing the partnership with Dow.
Meanwhile,Indian Olympic Association acting-president Vijay Kumar Malhotra ruled out London Olympics boycott but said the IOA Executive Board meeting on March 2 may decide on participation under protest. There is no question of an Olympic Boycott. We may decide on how we can take part under protest, Malhotra said.
Fresh sponsors for Indian contingent
The Indian Olympic Association has signed a Rs 1 crore sponsorship deal with Amul,all of which will be spent on the athletes who have qualified for the London Olympic Games in July. Each athlete,including 16 members of the mens hockey team,would receive Rs 2 lakh, IOAs acting president VK Malhotra said. He also said that the Games Organising Committee at London has provided 30,000 pounds to the NOC to be spent on the Indian contingent members for training. Any athlete wishing to go to London beforehand for training and acclamatisation can avail the facility. Any shortfall will be borne by the IOA, he added.
Talking about the clauses of the sponsorship deal with Samsung,he said the electronics company had given IOA Rs 50 lakh and the rest is being given directly to the players.